Move water away
Clean eavestroughs and downspouts
in the fall and spring to prevent
debris from clogging and warping the
eavestroughs or damaging the roof.
Also check that downspouts flow away
from the house. A more costly repair
is to fix the grade or to install weeping
tile to carry water away from the
foundation. If you have a sump pump,
give it a tuneup so it works efficiently
any time the water table rises, especially
in the spring.
Weatherstripping is an inexpensive,
flexible seal that keeps air and water out
of doors and window casings. You can
also seal cracks with caulking and install
a door sweep to keep air from escaping
beneath doors, Segal says.
A healthy home is well ventilated—air
moves in and out of the house with
ease and moisture has a way to escape
(through vents, windows and doors).
Poor ventilation can trigger wheezing,
coughing, shortness of breath and a
tight chest—especially for kids, seniors
and those living with respiratory issues
such as asthma and chronic bronchitis,
Open the windows
“When you seal the house up tight,
it’s great for warmth, but it’s not
necessarily great for air quality,” Segal
says. Windows are a quick way to
ventilate your home. When you open
the windows, turn off the furnace so it
doesn’t work to replace lost heat; turn it
back on when you close the windows to
replace warm air all at once.
The ideal humidity is between 40 and 50
per cent. Too much humidity can lead
to condensation on windows, mirrors,
walls, musty smells, peeling paint,
rotting window sills and mould—a
fungus that can be harmful to your
health. Too little humidity can cause
dry, cracked skin and irritate asthma.
Measure your humidity with a
hygrometer. Control humidity with a
humidistat. For more information, visit
the Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation’s website and see Measuring
Humidity in Your Home.
Use your fans
The fans in your bathroom, over your
stove or cooktop and behind your dryer
suck moisture out and bring fresh air in.
Use your bathroom fan while you shower
and for at least 20 minutes afterwards
and your range hood fan when you cook,
Segal recommends. You may need to
replace your fans if you use them and
still see condensation.
Call an expert
If you see or suspect mould in your
home—call an expert or your landlord.
“Professionals can gauge if there may be
bigger, more serious issues, and remove
it safely,” says Allard.
Check your temperature
“If your furnace or boiler system can’t
stay at 22°C, then it isn’t working very
well,” Segal says. You can check and
repair a few things before you call a
heating technician, including whether:
• The filter is clean
• The gas is on and works
• The system fires properly
• The fan works. If the fan doesn’t
work, you’ll likely have cold spots
throughout the house.
Keep your furnace working
Segal recommends furnaces—and all
gas appliances, including fireplaces and
water heaters—be checked once a year.
Alberta’s gas supply companies offer free
checkups and can connect you to other
companies if they find problems with
efficiency or carbon monoxide.
A programmable thermostat can help
reduce energy costs by up to two
per cent and can evenly regulate
temperature in the winter. You’ll want
to keep the house warm enough that
pipes won’t freeze (usually no lower
than 15°C), says Segal.
Choose a lock that can’t be easily broken
and door hinges that can’t be removed
from the outside. The Alberta Solicitor
General recommends a 2.5-centimetre
deadbolt lock. Motion-activated lights
and well-lit spaces can also increase
Clear your driveway and sidewalk
of snow and ice to protect yourself
and visitors from slips and falls